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How I Got into Law School: ‘Take the LSAT More than Once,’ Says Blank Rome’s Samantha Kovalyak interviewed associate Samantha Kovalyak for their “How I Got Into Law School” series. describes the series as providing "the next generation of law students with practical advice on the process of applying to law school. From preparing for the LSAT to deciding what to write in their personal statements, future 1Ls will find new ways to approach the application process directly from people who have been in their shoes."

To watch the full video interview with Samantha Kovalyak and's Carley Beckum, please click here.

The transcript of Samantha Kovalyak's interview, as published in, is copied in full below.


Samantha Kovalyak, associate at Blank Rome

Law School Attended: Duquesne University School of Law Tell me a little bit about how you prepared for the LSAT. How did you feel going into the test, and then how did you feel once you completed it?

Samantha Kovalyak: I went to Robert Morris University for my undergrad degree, and while there I was awarded a scholarship to take the Kaplan LSAT prep course. So I actually took that before taking the actual LSAT. It certainly boosted my confidence walking into the test because, through that prep course, I took practice tests, diagnostic tests, which really taught you what to expect while you were there, how to really prepare for like the nuanced games [such as the] logic games. So I did feel confident, as confident as you really could. While taking the test, I definitely didn’t feel surprised by anything. There were some things that happened during the test that I did find a little bit distracting: just being with all the people and [some who had] nervous mannerisms, that kind of threw me a bit. But outside of that, I felt confident in what I was able to do during the exam because of being prepared.

Afterwards, again, you just never know. I thought it went well, but of course you always feel like you could do better. But overall I would say, because of the course, I did feel pretty confident. Yes, I feel like prep courses just make, at least, some of the nerves go away.

Kovalyak: And again, the LSAT is so different than any test I had taken in undergrad. The LSAT is also a very long test, so just even being able to build that stamina going into it was certainly helpful. You can certainly [study on your own]. But if it’s an option, and especially if your school offers scholarships, [students should] certainly try and get into a course. Let’s talk about your undergrad degree. Tell me what you studied in undergrad, and did you decide to study that? Because you knew you were going to go to law school, or what was the thought process?

Kovalyak: I went to Robert Morris University, and I actually started as an accounting major and then quickly changed majors after I realized I’m not good with numbers. I switched to business management, and that’s what I ended up [getting a degree in with] a minor in legal studies.

So the reason why I chose to go the business route instead of what some people would consider a typical law school undergrad would be like political science. … Although I always knew I wanted to go to law school, and I knew that was my plan to follow immediately after undergrad, but in the off chance that I did not enjoy the practice of law, I wanted to be able to fall back on a degree that I could use. That’s always a good game plan. So you said you also took some courses in legal studies. What did that consist of in undergrad?

Kovalyak: As a business major at Robert Morris, you had to take some business law classes. I just went a little bit further so I took all of the traditional business law classes. And then I also took a constitutional law seminar class. I can’t honestly remember every class I had to take for that minor, but it was more classes like that. Honestly, after going to law school, [the classes] weren’t really comparable, but it was certainly a good foundation going into the actual practice of law. So we covered that you did go straight from undergrad to law school. Did you find that that was helpful to just go straight through?

Kovalyak: So for me, I had just always known that I wanted to [go to law school]. So I did enjoy going straight through. I think I would have been a little bit nervous to take some time off and start a career and then go back. Just because law school is very difficult and certainly takes time and dedication. I think [it was better for me to] stay a student through that whole time period, which was the world that I was accustomed to at the time.

What I will say and what I was very surprised by is that, when I got to law school as a traditional straight-through student, I was honestly the minority. Most people I felt like took time off in between undergrad and law school. I went to the full-time, day program and, even there, I felt like most people took at least a year off. Looking back, I would not have changed it for myself, but that is something that I would suggest to others. If you were even like the slightest unsure about going to law school, take that time off. It certainly wouldn’t hurt you if you took time off. How did you decide, once you got your LSAT scores back, what schools to apply to?

Kovalyak: I was definitely unorthodox in this. I grew up in a very small town: Ridgeway, Pennsylvania. But living in Pittsburgh [during undergrad], I knew I wanted to stay in the area, so that really limited my options to the two major law schools that are offered here. I actually applied early decision to Duquesne, and that was the only law school I applied to. So I really put all my eggs in one basket. I ended up taking the LSAT as early as possible. I believe I took my LSAT in the summer before my senior year, got my scores back and then had all of my application materials to Duquesne. Then I was accepted by Christmas break of my senior year, so again, that’s super early. Not a lot of people do it that way, and I would suggest taking time to go tour schools if you were open to moving or not knowing exactly which law school you want to go to. What do you think was your biggest strengths of your application?

Kovalyak: So I, of course, as most law students do, focused highly on getting a very high GPA. But in addition to that, I also was extremely involved on campus and tried to get my name out there as much as I could. I took a lot of leadership roles. I did a lot of community service philanthropy work. I was the co-president of our legal society. Through that society, I also made a lot of connections that actually helped me with my law school application process. Do you think you learned a lot from like those leadership roles kind of like help you transition into your law career?

Kovalyak: Oh, absolutely. And in addition to being the co-president of the pre-law society, I was also the president of my sorority. So that alone, I mean the leadership opportunities and ability to work with others and being able to juggle all of the different responsibilities on top of having to maintain a high GPA. I mean, all of that transitioned so well into having to juggle a course load like you get in law school. During the application process did you have anyone help guide you?

Kovalyak: Since I was a minor in legal studies and then also through the pre-law society, I was assigned an adviser who not only was an adjunct professor at the school but also was a practicing lawyer. He was really a well-connected, super successful attorney throughout his practicing career. So he really helped me complete the best, strongest law school application and helped me understand what the law school committee would be looking for in an applicant.

In addition, I also had a lot of mentorship through my English professor at the time. She really helped me perfect like my writing sample to make sure it was grammatically correct. Let’s talk personal statement. What did you write, and why did you choose to go that route?

Kovalyak: In addition to things such as your GPA or your activities, your personal statement is another way to really stand out among all the other applicants. You can really showcase your strengths and character traits that would show you would become a good lawyer eventually, and even more so, be a good law student. So it’s really like your time to focus on personal attributes that would never come across your resume.

For me, I grew up in a super small, very rural town. I did not grow up with anyone in the professional field such as like a lawyer in my family. And of course that really had some hardships to it. So I really focused on things that I had to overcome to get myself into the city and how I really focused on my education to get me to where I was and where I wanted to be in the future. I really focused on why I thought that would translate well into being a hard-working law student. What advice would you give to anyone who is entering the law school application process?

Kovalyak: My No. 1 [piece of] advice would be to really make sure you know you want to go to law school. I don’t want to deter anyone from applying, obviously, but it is certainly a financial hardship. It’s extremely stressful. It is time-consuming, much more so than undergrad. I didn’t even realize the difference that it would be going from undergrad to law school. So if you are somebody who is even a little bit on the fence, I would encourage them to take some time off, take a year off, to make sure that’s what you want to do.

I actually have a couple of close friends who have told me that because they took that time off [they knew], “Oh, I definitely need to go to law school.” So I think having that perspective would help somebody if they were not 100% sure.

My second piece would be when you are ready, to really get mentorship from people who are in the field already, not only to help you with your application materials but just to provide insight into what to actually expect when you get to law school. [They can suggest] things that you should be doing while you’re there such as law review or moot court trial and things of that sort. [Then] while you’re in school, you will also have that mentor to help make sure you are then the best applicant for the working field. That’s great advice. Looking back, would you do anything differently in your law school application process?

Kovalyak: I would, yes. So although I did apply to Duquesne early decision, I still toured the campus. And while I was there, I spoke to a law student whose advice was: ‘Take the LSAT more than once.’ I heard that piece of advice and ignored it. I only took it once because I knew what the minimum LSAT had to be for Duquesne. I made sure I hit that and then I wiped my hands clean of it. I wish that I would have taken it again.

Here’s why: I can’t speak for every school, but a lot of schools will base scholarships off of your LSAT score. So while I don’t think that your LSAT score is the be all, tell all of how well you will perform in law school, but the higher the score is, more likely than not, you will receive more scholarship money.

So I wish I would have given myself that opportunity instead of just being so narrowly focused on making sure I had a high enough score in order to get in. I wish I would have focused more on the long run because, like I had mentioned earlier, law school is a large financial burden and certainly taking the test one more time wouldn’t have hurt me by any means. It would have only increased my chance of getting more financial aid and scholarship money. So that is the one thing that I wish I would have done differently.

"How I Got into Law School: ‘Take the LSAT More than Once,’ Says Blank Rome’s Samantha Kovalyak," by Carley Beckum was published in on March 24, 2022.